Root cause(s) for Tramlining?

Hi All

spring is coming soon and I am planning to get ready to do some maintenance work on my '63 OTS. Before storing the car last fall I noticed a stronger than usual “tramlining” effect, basically at all speeds. I am driving my car with Dunlop RS5s for many years and I usually really enjoy how the car behaves with these tires so I know that “some” tramlining is normal.
Here is what I have done so far:

  1. Changed Tire pressure up and down. Had some minor effect but did not change the principal issue
    2.Visually inspected the steering rack mounts (Metalastik, with wheels on the ground). These mounts are about 10+ years old. Did not notice anything wrong like excessive play though
  2. Tightened all wheels via hub cap.

Is there a recommended procedure about how to zero in on the tramlining issue? Reading through the archives I am not expecting to eliminate the tramlining effect but I wish I could reduce what I am currently experimenting. How about worn wheel hubs? Anything at the rear end as a source?

Any recommendation is much appreciated.


What size tires and rims?
Ten years old, maybe they flat spotted and your sure your calipers arent locking up or frozen?
Good starting point go to 30 lbs and heat up those tires…They could be hard as a rock as well.
Good luck

You might inspect the condition of the rubber bushes on the radius arms - especially the big ends.

j_limongellI: No tire flat spot and calipers are perfect. Did the tire pressure variation and ensured that the tires are not hard as well.

Ahwahnee: Yes that is definitely something I should look at. Are these bushes known for contributing to the problem?

What size are the tires…
Also check he sway bar bushes, they seem to push out :slight_smile:

Any looseness in any of the suspension components can cause this problem. Check the upper and lower ball joints and all the rubber bushes. Don’t forget the inner and outer tie rod ends and the wheel bearings both front and rear.

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Everyone is right, how old is everything?

I wasn’t sure I even know what tramlining means so I googled it. Tire Rack for instance has an excellent discussion. Next I did a search on tramlining on J-L. I got a number of hits. I would suggest you perform that search and see what others have said before you. But unless you’ve done something that strongly deviates from the stock wheel and tire package, I suspect you are going to find that some of your suspension components are getting worn. It doesn’t take much. I would start with the inner and outer joints on the steering rack and work my way out from there.


Tire size is 6x15. I did replace the ball joints and front suspension bushings a while ago (though driven since less than 3,000 miles) but I will put this on my check list - you never know.
I forgot to mention in my post that I restored the entire steering rack components last year (except the Metalastik mounts) and have definitely no issue there. Good point with the bearings.
I am so glad to receive so much feedback. My check list is growing…

Any chance that the IRS mounts (not the radius arms) can cause this?

Thanks to all again!

After ten years your tires are hard. Had the E out for a spirited drive today and was reminded that my six-year-old tires need to be replaced as they easily lost grip at the rear. I have never experienced tramlining in the E.
Tramlining is a factory trait to my Alfa 4C, on my car less than most. Just replaced the original five-year-old Pirrelli’s with Michelin. I now find I can drive with one hand on the steering wheel instead of the two-handed death grip.
Many years ago my father bought a new Cadillac and the tires would follow the grooves cut on the highways. It took a small claims court ruling to get tires replaced with Michelins.

First suspect to me is too much toe out. Loosen the nut on the tie rod by the rod end and turn the tie rod in one complete turn. Drive it and see if it makes any difference. If you do it one side only the position of the steering wheel will be off a bit when you drive but it doesn’t matter. If that resolves the problem you’ll know what it is.


melloyello: Yes, I was thinking of replacing the tires, however, the Dunlop RS5 are no longer available and I want to stick to the original tire size. Tires look good though, and other than the tramlining the car handles excellent. Any recommendation is appreciated.

Terry: Excellent point! As I stated earlier I worked on the tie rods not too long ago. I am quite certain that I did not mess with the toe in, but this is something I could have easily overlooked! On my list!

Stephan, I know that getting new tires on these cars is not a trivial exercise but, as the 216 replies to a recent thread on tire age will atest, it is a complicated subject and visual condition is probably not a strong determinant of condition, versus age. Whatever, if you rule out everything else and the tramlining is still bothering you, you should probably get some new or different tires. If you know of a sympatico Etype owner in your area, maybe a short term tire swap would be instructive at only the cost of your labor. I also agree with Terry to play with the toe-in. On track cars, we intentional set a neutral or even toe-out to make the car more responsive to turn in, knowing that it will also make the car more “darty”. Terry’s suggestion is a good one. Just be careful to take good notes about which way you turned the damn tie rod! As I recall, one side has left hand threads.

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I’ll go further and say, age is the only and best determinant of a tire’s usability.

On short tracks, Id set my Formula Vees (zero Ackerman) to 1/4" (total) toe-out, for that very reason.

Harvey, Paul

Thanks. Duly noted and much appreciated! I was shopping around for tires not too long ago but it seems the Dunlops are NLA. I need to search the forum again for options but if I want to stick to Dunlop equivalents it seems my options are very limited.

First things first of course: I will work on my check list including the toe in…

It is going to take several weeks before I can take the car out of storage and work on it, but I will get back to you all with an update once I get a better picture.

Thanks again

I’d agree with the tire age comments. While I’m still learning about my E-type, I did investigate a bit about tires many years ago. After blowouts in a single year with two different vehicles using different tires, one of which caused significant damage to my vehicle, I went into hyperdrive to get to the truth. Michelin and Goodyear were the two companies involved, but as I grew up with Firestone friends and had senior management contacts at both Goodyear and Goodrich in the aerospace world, I called on their help after getting the run-around from the normally available customer service types. The bottom line: replace your tires every 4 to 5 years. That’s painful I know, but tires are the cheapest form of insurance. The tire manufacturers don’t want to admit this, but they have reams of data showing it to be true.

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Seems the Vredesteins are about the only option for OE-close tires.

Words to put on our garage walls!

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Another possible choice:

185HR15 Universal Sport Blackwall Tire (

Some on JL have them and like them. I have not tried them.

Yes, I found the Vreedestein. Probably the only way to go then. The other issue I am having with this is that I can not find an installer as they all claim that they do not have the adaptor needed for their balancing machine. Any experience here?

Somewhere, someone around Beantown should be able to do this.